Pretty much every time my phone rings at work, I stare it for a second. Then I close my eyes and say “stop ringing” aloud. Sometimes I have to say it a few times. After a while it does. Some proofs of omnipotence are inevitable.
But still! I remember when I was 13 and all I want to do was kick my feet up on my parent’s wicker table and talk to my friends on the phone, as though I was in some kind of commercial for Girl Talk. I also remember telephones with cords. Then I guess we all got cell phones and started texting, because that is all I ever do now. The only people I talk to on the phone are my mother and grandmother.
As a result, I’m terrified of phones. When I tell people to call me and they actually call I literally do not know what to do. I mostly reply in a fashion that has been described by reviewers as “curt” “brusque” “monosyllabic” and the ever popular “I assumed you were mad at me?”
As an attempt to combat this, many of my phone calls now go something like this:
Caller: Hi Jen! How are you doing?
Caller: I wanted to check to make sure we were still on for Saturday?
Caller: Great. Any idea on places we should go?
Caller: I was thinking it might be fun to see the new show at MOMA, although at some point I really want to go to Central Park now that it’s nice out. We could get lunch at the boathouse.
Caller: What? Yes to?
Caller: Yes to both?
Me: I like you.
A while ago, I was seeing someone who suggested that we could have a long, lovely chat where I just sat and talked to him on the phone. He expressed this over the phone. And for a while a great and cavernous silence lingered between us on that phone line. And then I said “no. No, I don’t do that. Thank you for asking.” I like to think Lady Thatcher would have done the same.
But, honestly. Why would anyone phone when you can text? Texting allows you to be constantly in communication without ever being interrupted. You never have to figure out what to say right then. And if you’re someone who doesn’t believe you should say anything without it being passed down as some kind of bon mot – if you are, in fact, Elizabeth Bennet or Mr. Darcy – then texting is your jam.
I mean, obviously you would have to call someone on the phone if something terrible happened, like you were in jail. Or dead.
In a way, I kind of like the fact that I can bond with the very elderly, because we both associate a ringing phone with the assumption that someone has died. Because otherwise people would e-mail or text (or write or send a telegram if you are the very elderly). I like the way people of my generation and people over, say, 100, both regard ringing phones with dread and suspicion.
Huh. Phones. Fucking terrifying. Right? Right?